Example sites built using Indicia

The best way to get a feel for what Indicia can do is to take a look at some example websites built using Indicia. This list of sites is not comprehensive but does give a feel for the range of surveys that can be supported. Firstly, we’ll look through some examples which are aimed at engaging the public in biological recording. These tend to have easy to use forms for capturing a species selected from a limited list of target species, a date and place. Normally the species involved will be easily identifiable and the site may provide additional identification assistance to make recording as simple as possible.

BBC Breathing Places Ladybird Survey

One example of this type of site is the BBC Breathing Places Ladybird Survey:

Choosing a ladybird species on BBC Breathing Places

Despite the fact that this survey was aimed squarely at schools and members of the public who may have little identification skills, the online assistance provided ensures that many useful records are gathered. There is even a sibling ladybird parasite survey also on the BBC Breathing Places site!

Maach Mat!

Another example of a public participation survey is the Maach Mat (Take Part) survey run by the Musée national d’histoire naturelle in Luxembourg. This survey has a very limited list of easily identified species to record in several categories. It’s also a good illustration of the multilingual capabilities of Indicia with the user interface available in German, French, English and Luxembourgish!

Selecting a Maach Mat! species to record.

Open Farm Sunday

During Open Farm Sunday 2012, farm visitors were offered the chance to participate in a survey of potential pollinators or to have a go at a simple “Discover Pollinators” checklist. The former was designed in collaboration with scientists at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology to ensure that the resultant data could be used in subsequent analysis despite having been collected by members of the public with no prior expertise. The survey’s results have been compared against results collected by trained volunteers during the event to provide useful data on the accuracy of citizen science records. The online recording forms, shown below, were designed using Indicia to closely match the paper forms used in the field to ensure that the input was as intuitive as possible.

Entering pollinator survey records for Open Farm Sunday

The Discover Pollinators form was intended to provide an opportunity for the public to engage with biological recording who had not been involved before. Again, the web version of the form below was carefully matched to the paper version as used in the field to ensure familiarity for members of the public inputting their records.

Inputting Discover Pollinators records for Open Farm Sunday

North East Cetacean Project

The North East Cetacean Project was one of the first surveys launched using Indicia and collects ad-hoc cetacean sigthings in the Northumberland region of England. The data input form includes identification information for each species to help with recording accuracy.

Selecting a cetacean species


It’s also possible to use Indicia to build recording sites which are aimed at regular recorders, either for those recording within a taxonomic group or for generalist recorders working across groups. An example of the latter is the NatureSpot site which allows naturalists in Leicestershire and Rutland to record all their sightings and photographs. This site supports entry of lists of any species at a particular date and time along with photo upload, along with online data management and verification facilities.

The NatureSpot home page

At this point in time, over 18,000 photos have been uploaded to NatureSpot of over 3,300 species.

A species account page from NatureSpot

NatureSpot is built using Drupal with the Indicia Forms module. Because Drupal is a fully fledged content management system you can build any site features you want around the online recording. In this case, NatureSpot features a comprehensive library of species accounts for species found in Leicestershire and Rutland. There are also pages describing the wild places of the area which include content and site photos created using Drupal alongside recent records and record photos from Indicia. These pages are of interest for a couple of reasons:

  • The records and photos shown on each wild places page are calculated by Indicia using the site’s boundary polygon to automatically work out which records to include. This sort of spatial query is easy because of the PostGIS spatial database used by Indicia.

  • Drupal’s content management facilities allow local site editors to edit the text content on each wild place or species page using easy-to-use text editors. There is therefore no need to pay a developer for general site maintenance of this nature.


iRecord is a general recording site for the United Kingdom, managed and hosted by the Biological Records Centre.

As well as online recording, iRecord provides an expert verification portal not only for records collected on iRecord itself but any other websites sharing the BRC Indicia warehouse hosting facilities that opt in via Indicia’s data sharing agreement facilities.

iRecord uses Drupal + iForm as a starting point for the website build with a selection of configured prebuilt forms for both data entry, reporting and data management. It makes use of the Easy Login and Forms and Surveys Library features to synchronise logins across websites and to manage a collection of data input forms respectively. As well as allowing recording of miscellaneous records, iRecord provides a data entry platform for organisations to host surveys on that don’t have their own hosting capacity. For example, iRecord is being used to host the Garden Bioblitz event which was trialled in 2012 and will be launched to the public in 2013.

Summary of the Garden Biolitz results.


As well as these generic recording solutions, it is also possible to use Indicia to develop highly specialised forms matched to particular survey methodologies. Engaging citizen scientists across France, SPIPOLL involves recording and photographing pollinators visiting flowers and includes tight integration into an existing Drupal site, an advanced search gallery and a highly customised data entry system.

The results of a flower survey performed for Spipoll

Rather than capture ad-hoc records, the value of Spipoll data are increased by following a set methodology which defines the information gathered, time spent at each flower and method of collecting records. Spipoll also includes integration with a Bayesian key to help identify the pollinating insects.

Biomonitoring Luxembourg

In Luxembourg, Indicia is not only used for public participation exercises like Maach Mat, but also for long term monitoring of bird, bat, butterfly, reptile and mammal species. The participant recorders follow strict methodologies for each of the surveys and the recording forms are correspondingly built for purpose. The following screenshot shows the customised input screen for butterfly transect recording:

Recording butterfly transects in Luxembourg

Developing specialist solutions such as this does require some code to be written, but they are much easier to develop using the Indicia toolkit as a starting point than if you started from scratch.